In collaboration with the SFOE, the Swiss Federal Energy Research Commission (CORE) formulates the federal government's energy research concept for each 4-year period. Based on this, a detailed concept is formulated for the Hydrogen research programme, and this concept has to be approved by CORE as a planning and working tool for the programme during each 4-year period. The long-term goal of the programme is to promote the research and development of technologies that will be required for the future use of hydrogen in a broad variety of areas. To accomplish this, the programme wants to effectively network the existing research findings in Switzerland and co-ordinate them with international activities. In the area of hydrogen technology there is still a significant need for research into materials. The programme is also promoting the development of long-term pilot and demonstration plants.
For the period from 2008 to 2011, the following scientific objectives are being pursued in the main projects:
Photoelectrochemical water splitting, a technology that was first carried out in Switzerland, is one of the main areas of focus of research activities relating to hydrogen production. Here the main issues to be dealt with concern the use of suitable materials. The associated expertise in this field of research in Switzerland is collected via the PEChouse network. Here the focus is on the following materials: haematite (Fe2O3) photoanodes, mesoporous compound oxides as transfer materials for photoanode systems and new types of conducting nanocrystalline materials with a broad surface.
In the area of hydrogen storage, research activities are primarily focused on metal hydrides. Hydrogen gas can be stored in certain metal alloys without losses and with long-term stability. This method of storage is very safe, though the mass-related storage density is higher in comparison with other storage technologies.